Wanna Start a Fight?
Set your alarm clock for “early.” Do whatever you do in the morning then get in your car and drive someplace you have never been before. Find a parking place in the center of town, then get out of your car and stand on a corner. Try to look curious or lost. Wait for two people – it does not matter their gender – and when they are within earshot, step in front of them and say, “Excuse me, would either of you please tell me where I can find the best hot dog in town?”
That’s all it takes! If you live in New England, along the Atlantic, around the Gulf, on the prairie, in the mountains, or way out west, for sure you will get two different answers. And guess what, both will be right.
Whenever or wherever, men and women alike are always ready to boast, brag, and defend their favorite hot dog stand.
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The American Hot Dog Lover – those who eat at least three each week – will travel long distances to visit a newly discovered hot dog vendor. This may not be common knowledge, but in a 2005 issue of the short-lived, British publication Hot Dog Magazine, a bit of sketchy research revealed a very questionable fact: that there are more places in the world to buy a hotdog than places to buy gasoline, cigarettes, candy, bread, or wine. In America the opportunity stretches from coast to coast.
There are postcards to prove it!
The history of the American Hot Dog is long and complicated. I personally have planned trips to places some may call “hot dog heavens.” I have never been disappointed, not even the trip I took in April 2021 (during the pandemic) to Illinois and found two of my five “hot dog destinations” closed.
My last trip took me to Hot Dog Nirvana. I watched the garage door close as I backed out of my driveway. The thought that when through my head was, if I ever tell anyone about this trip, they will accuse me of being an “April Fool.”
From my home in Texas, it is a jaunt of almost eleven hundred miles to Phoenix. At my age that’s a three-day drive. The weather was nice that first week in April and since it was already DST [Daylight Savings Time] the sun wasn’t in my face until later in the day. West Texas is beautiful that time of year. The sky is deeper blue than usual and the bluebonnets start to bloom. And for me there are hot dogs at my destination.
My last trip took me a week. Being alone behind the wheel is a kind of therapy for me; I don’t remember for sure, but I may have talked to less than ten people the whole week. Like I said, the weather was nice and I was away from the television and all those political ads. Best of all I dined-out on nine hot dogs that week and second best was that I found the postcard above in a Tucson antiques shop.
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The most common describer of the hot dog is “fun food.” The term is often applied to foods that are garnished with one or more condiments. Yellow mustard is the most commonly used condiment, but brown mustard is growing in popularity. Most folks know about mustards but do they know the difference between a condiment and a topping? Condiments are flavorings like ketchup, salsa, dill relish, India relish; toppings are enhancements such as sauerkraut, chili, pickles, onions, coleslaw, jalapenos, cheese, and mayonnaise.
Please allow me one word of personal privilege concerning mayonnaise on hot dogs – Yuck!
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If the guy who wants to start a fight, got a reasonable answer, and asked a second question like, “The place you recommended, is it a hot dog stand or a hot dog truck, van, or wagon?” And one answer was a stand and the other was a truck, where would he go?
Without a doubt, he would go to the truck. Hey America, we all know the best hot dogs are sold where they can be eaten in the fresh air, when the sun is shining, and a gentle breeze carries the drone of diesel engines idling in trucks parked not too far away.
If you like hot dogs we will meet someday at a hot dog truck some place in America. If that is not meant to be, please do me a favor – before you bite into the next hot dog that you have covered with mustard and topped with a pickle and onions, raise it high in the air and say, “Here’s to you, Alan!”
First, I have the “Bob’s Hot Dogs” linen postcard, but I had been searching for “ice cream”. I think the “best” taste is mental. They taste better at ball parks and street stands like Sabrett’s in NYC. I also love the Chile-Dogs at Dairy Queen…which brings us back to the hot dog/ice cream combo.
Great selection of cards featuring some of my collecting interests — antique vehicles, comics, and “bathing beauties”.
Great article. I hope you’ll send it to the Food Network Magazine.
As a collector of “Please Write” cards (and a writer), I am always pleased to see someone else take joy in their own quirky specialty.
I love hot dogs and have tried them in nearly every place that I have visited. They all are good but the near by go to place for me is Costco. Can’t beat the deal but sad that they eliminated the Polish dog!